Recently I had lunch with a friend who arrived in a gorgeous pink wrap dress. A new mum, she’d been finding it tricky to find designs that flattered and were convenient for breastfeeding. Low and behold she declares her frock is custom made and was entirely affordable. Instant Sublime Find alert – she gave me a card for eShakti which has recently started shipping to Australia and I scampered off to try them!
Today I’m sharing how it all shook out… but first a note: eShakti work with lots of bloggers, providing items in return for review. (This is standard blogger fare and most are very clear with brands that items provided for editorial consideration do not guarantee a positive review, because integrity.) This is not one of those posts. There were a few elements unique to eShakti that made me a little cautious of a reciprocal arrangement if I wasn’t sure it could write something positive… and also, I was genuinely interested in buying from them on the recommendation of my stylish friend. I happily added-to-cart and paid without any disclosure about this blog.
eShakti is an online store with a range of designs that are available to order in standard sizes between 0 and 36 (US sizes) OR custom fit to your exact measurements. For $9.95 USD flat rate you can make customisations to the design you selected: both in terms of it being built to your exact measurements and also adjusting elements like neckline, sleeve lengths, hem lengths, pockets.
While this type of customisation at a dress maker would set you back significant $, the prices are very reasonable, for example most dresses are around $50 USD (before the $9.95 customisation fee). They have a 30 days returns policy on unworn items giving you option for refund or credit or note to help ensure customer satisfaction. eShakti have just started shipping to Australia, giving us access to a unique online shopping experience at an accessible price point.
The website is easy to navigate, and after setting up a profile you can store your measurements rather than enter them each time you want to make a custom order. When it says measurements, this is no bust, waist, hips affair – there’s about 20 different measurements around all different parts of your body, with good instructions on how to measure. They suggest having a friend help for accuracy. (I didn’t, but did measure everything twice. Worked out fine.)
The eShakti website suggests orders typically take up to 9 days to make and 4 days to ship, but currently are taking up to 13 days (jeans, skirts and wedding dresses take longer again). I ordered three dresses on 25 March, they was estimated for delivery 6 April and arrived 21 April.
…that is two of the three dresses arrived. I emailed them re: the third dress, after two days I heard back that it was being shipped separately. No shipping details were provided for the third order. It arrived more quickly than I thought, on 26 April. Shipping is with DHL and super quick!
The element I was most curious about was fit: how accurately can the eShakti team customise their designs? If my experience is anything to go by: very accurately. The dresses I bought all fit very well… and consistently. I chose fit-and-flare designs that would flatter my shape, but trying the dresses on reminded me how well neatly tailored pieces can really work for you.
The quality is what you’d expect – average. The craftsmanship (Craftswomanship? Craftpersonship? I see these gendered terms everywhere!) is good, the fabric is okay. The dresses are unlined, I haven’t laundered them all yet to see how they fare in the wash. eShakti seem to have a lot of designs in poplin which crushes so instantly, I went for knit fabrics. Even then, they’ll need ironing each wear. For the price, the product is very reasonable, even more so when you consider the customisation. (NB: all the dresses I purchased were on sale slightly and I receive some $ off for my first order plus free shipping.) If you’re looking for a beautifully designed dress, with lining and great fabric, you don’t expect to pay $65ish Australian dollars which is about what my eShakti frocks cost.
Which leads to a question around how eShakti are making these custom garments at such a low price point. We’ve seen a lot more in recent years around ethical production and asking ‘who made my clothes?’. Luciana at Lilt Blog did a great series on ethical production for Fashion Revolution Week last week if you’re interested in learning more about this topic.
Clearly a point of interest for customers, eShakti have shared some information on their website around the working conditions for their staff in India. The information they provide suggests favourable working conditions verified by the government of India and wages in excess of minimum wage. I read a few other posts exploring this further… minimum wage is extraordinarily low, so a claim of 70% above that rate certainly is no fortune.
My basic read is that the conditions are better than many operators but not amazing. I am not an expert in this field, nor is this info I’m regularly in the habit of looking at (though probably should be) so I’m uncomfortable making a firm call with a bunch of second hand information. If this is something you want to know more about, I encourage you to google more.
I’m not sure if I’ll purchase from them again. The price point is great but I have long ago vowed to value quality over quantity in my wardrobe and have been spoilt with gorgeous quality pieces that show up the eShakti frocks. But, I do love the custom fit and option to choose customisations that work for my body. I think I’ll see how these pieces wear over the next few months and go from there!
If you typically find fit a bit tricky with standard sizing and due to effort/expense/inconvenience don’t regularly use a tailor, eShakti could be a great option. If you are a certain shape for a limited period of time (i.e. breastfeeding like my friend), eShakti could also be a great option. If you have a bridal party or squad in different shapes and sizes or want slightly different designs, eShakti is definitely a good choice at a low price point – just make sure you leave plenty of time for delivery.
Have you bought from eShakti before? Or know someone who has? What was the experience like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.